PARK HILLS — The superb rebounding and defensive effort that allowed Mineral Area to dominate Jefferson two weeks ago was less visible in the Region XVI rematch on Monday night.
The Lady Cardinals were challenged into the final minute at home before surviving with a 73-69 victory, getting a needed boost from their bench.
Freshman M.J. Buschmann scored 16 points and Darrieon Clark netted 14, both in reserve roles, as Mineral Area (13-6) improved to 4-1 at the midway juncture of region play.
Robneisha Lee provided two timely baskets in the closing minutes, first extending a 6-point cushion on a baseline drive with 1:35 to play.
Her pull-up jumper with 33 seconds left answered a 3-pointer by Jefferson’s Mariah Weddle, and restored a safer 72-65 advantage.
Ashley Ward added 11 points to the win. The Lady Cardinals made just 15-of-27 free throws while the Vikings were 18-of-23 from the line.
Jefferson (3-12) remained within striking distance despite missing starters Callie Jo Smith and Shaia Horton, who highlighted the scoring column during the previous meeting in Hillsboro.
Forward Teykia Cooper had a game-high 17 points and Elaine Herrera tallied 16 to pace four Vikings in double figures. Sierra Contreras added 12, including the game’s final points on a driving layup.
Cooper opened the contest with back-to-back field goals in the post, but Jefferson lost the early lead for good following a 12-0 Mineral Area run.
Buschmann forced her way inside for a go-ahead scoop. Clark then fired a skip pass to Ward for a jumper before sinking her own 3-pointer.
But the Lady Cardinals could not continue the momentum of a 21-10 lead. A counter spurt from the Vikings prompted a frustrated MAC coaching staff to substitute five players at one moment.
Cooper hit two open jumpers and Jefferson eventually pulled to within 24-22 before Clark sparked another Mineral Area surge.
After scoring on consecutive trips, Clark spotted Fredericktown graduate Terra Helm for a baseline jumper. Ward capped her solid first half with a triple to send a 41-30 game into the break.
Jefferson cut its maximum deficit of 14 down to 48-42 with 13 minutes remaining and continued to hang around as physical play escalated. Herrera helped the cause with a pair of deep 3-pointers.
Buschmann converted two free throws off a steal, stretching the difference back to 62-49. A 14-foot jumper by Tayla Corrigan later yielded a 66-54 lead.
Mineral Area will host State Fair in another region matchup on Saturday.
Jefferson 30 39 - 69
Mineral Area 41 33 - 73
Jefferson - Teykia Cooper 17, Elaine Herrera 16, Sierra Contreras 12, Mariah Weddle 10, Paris Bridges 9, Ivana Starkey 3, Jalynn Johnson 2. 3-point FG - Herrera 2, Weddle, Starkey, Cooper. (FT: 18-23)
Mineral Area - M.J. Buschmann 16, Darrieon Clark 14, Ashley Ward 11, Robneisha Lee 8, U’Knique Gaines 7, Alayah Cooper-Johnson 6, Tayla Corrigan 4, Kasia Kiejdrowska 3, Terra Helm 2, Larra Kubinski 2. 3-point FG - Clark 2, Ward 2, Kiejdrowska, Lee. (FT: 15-27)